A clear majority of senior executives at the world's largest corporations believe Web 2.0 technologies have the potential to transform customer relationship management and increase revenues, according to research from the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The report is based on a survey of 406 senior executives – half from the C-suite – at large companies throughout the world, as well as interviews with Citigroup, JWT, Global Crossing and other major corporations.
The survey, sponsored by enterprise search outfit Fast, found that 79% of respondents see the collaborative Web as a way to boost revenues and cut costs.
The most-cited effect of Web 2.0 – defined by the EIU as a collection of Web-based services that emphasise online collaboration and sharing among users – is to transform the way that companies interact with their customers.
The study found that large companies are already using Web 2.0 tools and methods in a variety of ways. So far, companies have focused their efforts mainly on the creation of online communities that can help with product marketing or product development. In second place is the establishment of blogs or wikis to initiate conversations and share knowledge inside or outside the company.
In the future, companies expect Web 2.0 methods and tools to be the single biggest factor changing the ways their company interacts with customers (according to 68% of executives), or on how employees interact with each other and the company (49% of survey respondents).
Indeed, nearly 60% of the surveyed companies say that they are inviting customers to contribute content that explains, supports, promotes or enhances their products, or that they plan to do so within the coming two years. About half of companies say they are, or are planning to, treat customers as co-developers of products that are in a constant state of improvement.
While CEOs were found to be more enthusiastic than middle management about the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies, their ambition was not matched by more skeptical CFOs.
The EIU found that CFOs are less likely to view Web 2.0 as transformative, less likely to think that it will affect all parts of the business, and less likely say that it will change the company’s business model. They are also less optimistic than their C-suite peers about Web 2.0’s potential to increase revenue and margins.